The GOP and Medicare deficits – this is gonna hurt

It looks like the GOP is going to win, and win big today, their success driven in large part by voter outrage about taxes and spending, with concern about the cost of reform a strong supporting actor.
If those voting for the GOP think they’re about to see restraint in spending, they are going to be sorely disappointed. We need look no further than Medicare Part D, which, according to a piece in Forbes, the mouthpiece of American Liberals for generations, “U.S. Comptroller General David Walker called “the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”
The Forbes piece went on to say “Recall the situation in 2003. The Bush administration was already projecting the largest deficit in American history–$475 billion in fiscal year 2004, according to the July 2003 mid-session budget review. But a big election was coming up that Bush and his party were desperately fearful of losing. So they decided to win it by buying the votes of America’s seniors by giving them an expensive new program to pay for their prescription drugs.”
Here’s how Walker put it in an interview with CBS:
“…we promise way more than we can afford to keep. Eight trillion dollars added to what was already a 15 to $20 trillion under-funding. We’re not being realistic. We can’t afford the promises we’ve already made, much less to be able, piling on top of ’em.”
With one stroke of the pen, Walker says, the federal government increased existing Medicare obligations nearly 40 percent over the next 75 years. [emphasis added]
“We’d have to have eight trillion dollars today, invested in treasury rates, to deliver on that promise,” Walker explains.
Asked how much we actually have, Walker says, “Zip.”
So where’s that money going to come from?
“Well it’s gonna come from additional taxes, or it’s gonna come from restructuring these promises, or it’s gonna come from cutting other spending,” Walker says.
Forbes again:
Moreover, there is a critical distinction [between Part D and reform]–the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit, whereas the health reform measures now being debated will be paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, adding nothing to the deficit over the next 10 years, [emphasis added] according to the Congressional Budget Office…the unfunded drug benefit, which added $15.5 trillion (in present value terms) to our nation’s indebtedness, according to Medicare’s trustees, was worth sacrificing his [Rep Trent Franks (R) of Arizona] integrity to enact into law. But legislation expanding health coverage to the uninsured–which is deficit-neutral–somehow or other adds an unacceptable debt burden to future generations.”
Readers may recall Part D passed in the dead of night and only after GOP leader Tom Delay (currently on trial for money laundering) strong-armed three GOP Representatives into switching their ‘nays’ to ‘yeas’, thereby ensuring your kids, and my kids, would be saddled by an unfunded debt of $8 trillion.
(BTW, all but 16 Democrats voted AGAINST the Part D bill…)
One of the vote-switchers was Trent Franks, who is now a top contender for Hypocrite of the Year. Here’s what Franks said about health reform: “I would remind my Democrat colleagues that their children, and every generation thereafter, will bear the burden caused by this bill. They will be the ones asked to pay off the incredible debt”.
As bad as he is, Franks has some tough competition for the HotY award; Among the GOP deficit hawks who voted for Part D, and are now outraged by the cost of health reform are Senators McConnell (KY), Cornyn (TX), Crapo (ID), Hatch (UT), Grassley (IA), Hutchinson (TX), Sessions (AL), Enzi (WY), Roberts (KS), and Inhofe (OK).
If you think these conservative deficit hawks are going to do anything different this time around, you’re delusional – at best.
I am continually amazed by the inability of the American voter to separate fact from fiction, lies from truth, pandering from honesty. Some, including me, will argue that the Democrats have done a lousy job of pointing out the ‘inconsistency’ on the part of these Republicans.
But at some point the people pulling the levers in the voting booth have to take responsibility.
And that time is now. The reason – the only reason – we have huge deficits and no path to paying for them is because the American voter is too damn lazy to engage.
As HL Mencken said: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
And this one is gonna hurt.